Courting Mr Baggins
Thorin found himself in an unfavourable position. Having gone from thinking that bringing the hobbit along was a mistake to respecting Mr Baggins a great deal, he endeavoured to redeem himself in his eyes. He took some time every day to talk to the hobbit, shared his meals with him, and made sure he was comfortable during his rest. And as he got to know Bilbo his respect grew ever stronger - as did some other emotions. By the time they were halfway to the Lonely Mountain, Thorin had to admit to himself that he desired the hobbit greatly. With that in mind he began his courtship.
When it was his turn to cook the meals, he made sure that Bilbo got the best cut of the meat. When they were packing up in the morning, his share was always the biggest and Bilbo’s the smallest (this particular favour backfired on him when the hobbit caught on and started sneaking things from Thorin’s pack into his own - the dwarf’s admiration only grew). If they managed to arrange a bath someplace, Thorin ensured that Bilbo only ever had to share it with him. He even asked the hobbit to braid his beard (which he did very gently and neatly). Still, he got no response.
His fellow dwarves looked on at the courtship favourably and, as the response was long in coming, with a growing amount of pity. That blasted wizard only looked amused all the time. Though Biblo seemed indifferent, he didn’t refuse the courtship, so Thorin remained hopeful and continued along the same lines. He did have to admit though, to himself at least, that he was getting more and more desperate as the Mountain approached. He was running out of ways of showing his affection. Already Bilbo regularly braided his beard and even seemed to be getting creative. Such a habit was generally only maintained among long term lovers - asking someone who was not his lover to do so was terribly forward of Thorin, more forward that dwarfish courtship would permit, really, yet Bilbo still made no sign of accepting the dwarf as his lover.
Eventually, Gandalf decided to get involved. “Have you considered that Bilbo might not be aware of your courtship?”
“How could he not be?” snorted Thorin. “He braided oak leaves in my beard today.”
Thorin’s beard was indeed boasting a few spots of deep green colour. Gandalf thought they looked surprisingly neat.
“Hobbits are not the most subtle of creatures,” answered the wizard. “When there is something on their minds, they generally just say it.”
That night Thoring considered Gandalf’s words. Could the hobbit truly not be aware of his intentions? He thought he was being terribly forward. Courtship among dwarves was usually a much more subtle affair that could last up to a few years during which time the dwarves involved gently established their respective genders. Thorin has always been impatient and had, since he was already certain of Mr Bilbo’s gender, skipped a few otherwise vital steps. However, now that he considered it for a bit, it made sense that Bilbo would be unaware of dwarfish courting habits - he had never left his home before and, from what Thorin saw in Shire, he never had to delicately establish the gender of his fellow hobbits. Perhaps a more direct approach would be acceptable under the circumstance.
The following evening found the company at an inn at the edge of a settlement of men. Thorin ensured that he got a room alone with Bilbo, which the hobbit didn’t seem to find very remarkable, but the dwarf thought was on the very farthest edge of propriety. His fellow dwarves agreed, but desperate times call for desperate measures and none of them thought any less of their future king for it.
Bilbo was enjoying his final pipe before bed when Thorin put a hand on his shoulder and turned him around. He then removed his heavy coat and chainmail to reveal a thick undershirt and a strong golden chain around his neck. He removed the chain and placed it around the hobbit’s neck. Then he looked him in the eyes and took a deep breath.
“Bilbo Baggins of Bag End, this is terribly forward of me and I hope you’ll forgive me for it, however, all my subtler ways bore no fruit and I can take this no longer. You didn’t seem to have noticed, but I have been courting you for the past 74 days. As it is terribly inconsiderate to leave one’s admirer in doubt for so long, I would like you to tell me whether you are prepared to accept my courtship, so that I might be at peace.”
Bilbo tried to remain serious throughout Thorin’s speech, but the tips of his lips started curving upward. He gently touched the golden chain that Thorin gave him and smiled.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to ask me that,” said the hobbit mischievously.
The dwarf looked at him in shock. “You knew of my intention, yet remained quiet? I did not take you for a cruel man, Mr Baggins.”
Bilbo’s smile grew. “It was not cruelty, dear Thorin. Your people demand subtlety and I indulged you. My people demand candidness, so I was merely waiting for you to indulge me.”
“And do you feel yourself to be sufficiently indulged?” asked Thorin.
In answer, Bilbo tangled his fingers into the dwarf’s rich hair and pulled him down into a kiss.
Thorin took it to mean yes.
He was right.